Below is a satsang (exchange) exploring the nature of duality and non-dualty.
Ted Schmidt: Whether we like it or not, we are stuck with duality. Duality is the necessary condition that facilitates the unfoldment of the universe. Without duality, the universe could not exist. The existence of everything that seems to exist can only be recognized within the context of is relationship with an opposing force or phenomenon. For example, you can’t have light except as defined by its relationship to dark. And so it is with all the pairs of opposites that encompass every aspect of everything in existence.
Duality, itself, is not the problem. Believing the dualistic universe to be real and harboring dualistic notions about the nature of reality is what causes all the conflict that leads our suffering. The moment we start judging things, circumstances, actions, others, ourselves, etc., as right or wrong, good or bad, worthy or unworthy, etc., we create a context in which likes and dislikes naturally arise. These preferences are what Vedanta calls vasanas. These vasanas are the basis of our actions and reactions, for we naturally seek to satisfy them. Each time we do so, however, we strengthen them, and if we are not conscious of what we are doing they soon intensify into desires and fears that further intensify into attachments and aversions. Ultimately, the vasanas render us slaves to our subconscious impulses and motivations.
If we are able to neutralize the vasanas through the practice of karma yoga and assimilation of the teachings of Vedanta, then we can become free of their hold over us. Moreover, once we realize the false nature of duality and understand that the universe in which we live is only an apparent reality, we are then able to live within the context of the dualistic world without being deluded by it. We can witness the interplay of the forces of the universe, but no longer see them as engaged in conflict, for we understand the fundamental non-dual consciousness that is the substratum of all that is and is not. Moreover, we no longer experience conflict either with the world or within ourselves because we know the true identity underneath all appearances, and therefore have no need to gain or get rid of anything. There being nothing more to acquire or avoid, all of our desires and fears dissolve, and we live in harmony with the way things are.
Dustin Eliah: This is all perfect and true and then what, this feels like just the starting off point, we return to the core of awareness knowing we are one with all of life and that all is fundamentally unreal, and yet here we are living life. We can and must live in harmony with the way things are if we wish to create a harmonious life and we also are beings of choice, I find there is an energy or impulse of creation which is allowed to flow through me when I open to this non dual awareness, there is no other and yet there is the desire or the impulse to create, play, and dance with this duality, to really live the passion and joy that arrives within me in each moment, not in order to get happiness through things or avoiding experiences, but through the profound freedom to express what is alive in this moment – free from vasanas which are rooted in separation and fear we can create with life while rooted in love – leaping into life with this full yes – knowing we are all one – there is nothing to gain – all things are possible – we are the consciousness that is creating this experience – we can play with this power and potential!! love you all 🙂
Eaden Shantay: Consciousness (awareness) is not a do-er. There is a power within awareness (maya) that conditions awareness making non-dual reality appear as a duality.
With maya in play Isvara the creator comes into being and wields the three qualities or powers of creation. These are called the gunas (rajas, tamas and sattva).
Every aspect of creation contains some proportion of the three gunas. They mix together in very specific ways to make both the subtle and gross elements of creation. Sattva is the intelligence or blueprint, tamas the materiality and rajas the creative projecting power (the doing power).
Reminder: everything I am sharing but awareness, you, original consciousness, is taking place in maya which is reflected consciousness, the apparent reality.
There are practices which reduce tamas (veiling) and rajas (projecting) and lead to a predominance of sattva. If you desire freedom and happiness, then sattva is necessary. It provides the clarity to assimilate the knowledge that you are whole, complete and good.
This whole Vedanta teaching offers a time tested valid means of knowledge. Why knowledge? Because experience is not going to get you there? Why? You are already there, you are the self, and any action to get you where you already are only creates more ignorance.
Vedanta simply removes the ignorance of your true nature.
Experience comes and goes but you are changeless.
Dustin: agreed, Vedanta seems to only negate everything back to pure changeless consciousness, why be here in form then if not to use this pure beingness to play in the maya?
Eaden: Every action we take in maya seeks to reduce our limitation. We seek security because we feel the limitation of insecurity. We seek pleasure, to obtain objects because we feel limited and lacking. We seek virtue, to do good because we feel bad. So essentially we are seeking freedom from the bondage of the gunas and our past karma. Vedanta doesn’t tell us why we are here, no one can. Vedanta is a gift from consciousness, a knowledge which removes ignorance revealing that we are already free and nothing more is needed. With self knowledge, no further action is required. We are purna or full. But as you say, we are here, so why not make the best of it. Act in ways to sing the praises of the creator. Share our gifts and passions. Enjoy the fruits, learn from the challenges. All so we can enjoy this great gift of life we have been given and play our roll in the zero sum game or balance of creation, an apparent duality.
Dustin: yeah, that sounds good 🙂 Vedanta seems to keep quiet on the aspect of co-creation with Isvara, we are not only here to respond to life as it presents itself we also effect what arrives based on the frequency of vasanas or gunas etc that we are holding in the moment, we can negate these and be pure source consciousness, and we can also use this pure consciousness to create a new flow of intention and experience with the larger field of creation, we do not do this to gain anything for we are already whole and complete and yet we are a co-creative participant in this creation are we not, if our pool is still and reflecting the light of pure source – what is it that flows into life? the karmic energy flows when we create vasanas of desire, is there a vasana of desire that is in harmony with this higher source or are all vasanas only the lack of self? can we experience life here in this 3D place without a vasana?
Eaden: Great stuff Dustin. While we have our role to play in the grand scheme, Vedanta is quite clear that God is not our co-pilot but rather flying the plain.
There is a value called accommodation which describes the aspect of going with the flow, i.e. Letting go of the need to change or control creation or experience. In other words, God has it all under control. In fact, God and creation are just thoughts appearing in you as awareness and have no affect on you as awareness.
Now when we identify with the jiva, God has a whole lot to say! God will file you down to flatter than flat if you act in adharmic ways. This is the proverbially whack we get when we are out of alignment.
We don’t control the results of our actions, the creator or dharmic field does.
Yes the gunas are doing us. Yes our vasanas are doing us. But only apparently. When we fully assimilate self knowledge or the knowledge of self, the gunas and karma happen but don’t affect us. While our actions appear to affect maya, they offer nothing to the self which is always present, full, action less, formless, non-dual, ordinary consciousness.
We can’t use pure consciousness. We are action-less pure consciousness. Pure consciousness through maya, the creator and the gunas is using/doing us.
When the pond is still, as the jiva, we experience reflected consciousness. This obtains as the energy (shakti) of the gunas.
Vasanas will always be present when the light of consciousness shines upon the jiva. Just as thoughts and doing will also happen. Which is why no mind not-doing are enlightenment myths. When the light bulb is plugged in it lights up.
Vasanas can be helpful as in a Satya Mithya vasana where we discriminate the self from the not self. Or vasanas can be bad as in believing we are lacking and need to chase objects or experiences to complete us.
What Vedanta teaches is that we want to sublimate our desire for objects and experiences into a burning desire for freedom. This is a very important vasana to have if one desires freedom.
So yes we have apparent free will though that is questionable because… what are you going to think or feel in the next two minutes. The gunas are the doer. Yet we can act wirh dharma and with discernment and non-attachment (dispassion) and create a life that is quite pleasurable. So I would say that we are co-creating our experience but with an omniscient governor called the creator or the dharmic field. Time to shop:)
Dustin: thanks for the jazz, lets do some more 🙂
Photo by Dustin Eliah.